Diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at 35 with three young children at home, Kristi started on a quest to eliminate harmful chemicals from her life and environment. Her book, Little Changes—our next selection in our Beautycounter Book Club series—is the story of that journey.
Join us for a live interview with Kristi Marsh on January 12 at 5:30 PM PST.
Q: Will you please describe how you made the connection between cancer and our repeated exposures to toxic chemicals?
The “before” me assumed that cancer was for those with a family history, smokers, or simply “others.” I was and am a healthy person. Yet, after I found my lump at age 35 and had time on my hands (due to chemotherapy), I started to read—a lot. One of my first aha moments was reading Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacy Malkan. It was an investigative, jaw-dropping quick read that left my head spinning. Stacy answered the questions for me of “How in the world did we get here?” and “Why is it that cosmetics in the U.S. can contain harmful ingredients?”
Q: What do your family and friends think of your quest to educate others on the toxic chemicals in our home and natural environment?
A: My friends have been amazingly supportive and have gone on similar journeys. As for my children, I have been traveling a lot, and my kids have learned to do their own dishes and laundry. Not a bad thing! I talk to my kids—a lot. They get me and the way I interpret the world. It is important to me they grow up with the ability to share kindly. Putting health first is a growing process, not just for me, but for these mini-adults I am raising, as well. Little Changes has brought us closer and made us tighter, because we are embarking on this journey together.
Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned as you were researching
A: From teen years through motherhood, I trusted unconditionally the personal care products I purchased. Why wouldn’t I? It was all I had known. To learn that the definition of “safe” is determined by the industry was baffling. Their definitions are far from what I find acceptable for my body or my children’s bodies. This self-regulating format of our system has allowed for the creation of products that I would (now) never bring into my home, much less put on family members or myself.
Q: People often say that learning about toxic chemicals in our environment
and in our homes can be scary and can feel disempowering. What do you say
to that, and how does your book address this common concern?
A: I get it! If I had 10 minutes in my schedule to read, why would I immerse myself into gloomy messages, scary stories, and intimidating statistics? There must be a certain population that ravishes that kind of material, but in my circle of friends, we want to escape, laugh, and learn.
I took existing elements of what we should all have an understanding of—added a cup of humor, a smidgen of sarcasm, and a dollop of mainstream motherhood—and retold it through my story. The ultimate book-club books provide endless discussion. I want to get people discussing these topics.
Q: Are you optimistic about the future? Do you think that companies
and policies will shape up to be more protective of human health and
A: I have seen many changes just in the five short years that I have had my toes in the eco-health water. I wholeheartedly believe I am surfing the thin edge of a very powerful wave.
As change happens, it will be the innovative, transparent companies that lead with integrity that will succeed. It will be the policy makers who listen to their constituents who will be in office. In addition, so many of us are raising the next round of CEOs, scientists, and politicians. What is important to us now will be important to them later.
The tipping point will shift when we educate ourselves, and the generations in school now will shift to become the consumers and leaders of the future.
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